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Cervical Fusion

Robin53RRobin53 Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello Everybody -

I have been dealing with back issues and pain for a long time, I have something wrong with almost every inch of my spine from stem to stern. 5 years ago I went to a doctor who told me a needed Anterior Cervical surgery with instrumented fusion ( he referred to a cage). When he told me they go thru the front of the neck - well, let's just say- here I am 5 yrs later and all of my symptoms have become much worse - the only thing that helped me was prednisone, but we all know the long term effects of that. Still my legs and arms are weak, hard to walk and in contant pain. So here I am scheduled to have surgery this week with a different surgeon and he is going to do a Anterior Cervical Disectomy & Fusion C5-C6/C6-C7.
Needless to say I am scared to death, not because of the pain but because of the swallowing issues after surgery.
Also, if anyone could help me out as to why one doctor would suggest a cage and another a plate?

I am looking at some posts on the internet and alot of people seem to have problems with the screws becomming loose etc. and having surgery to have the plate removed.
Can anyone tell me the actual success rate to this surgery?

Thank you in advance for any help in this matter.


  • I had it and the swallowing was the worst part. It took about 2 months to have normal swallowing. They used allograft and put in a plate. Which it has been almost 8 months and I can not tell any discomfort now. I would do it over if I had to. c5-c6 , c6-c7 is what I had.
  • Hi!

    I have a cage, a plate and 4 screws (1 level acdf c 4-5). I was shocked and happy to have almost no swallowing issues post op. The only swallowing problem I had was with bread and larger objects, I just had to swallow 2-3 times to get it to go down, but that was no big deal at all. Maybe I just had a really good surgeon.

    I hope yours goes just as well.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Thank you for your reply. I am glad to hear that yours was a success - feeling less nervous already.
    Best wishes for continued good health.
  • Thank you so much for your reply. Like you, I am looking at many spinal surgeries. Do you mind me asking how your Lumbar surgery went. They have a longer recovery time don't they? and also has that surgery helped also, he wants to do lumbar next.

    My prayers are with you for a very speedy recovery and the best of health from here on.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    No problems swallowing after any of my surgeries. A sore throat that was it.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I think it's just the surgeon's choice as to whether they use a cage or plate. I've had a 3-lvl with plate and 8 screws in 2008 and haven't had any problems. I don't believe that most have problems with their screws, in fact I think it's rather rare. It probably depends on how strong your bones are and how they put them in. My plate and screws are still very solid and I'm totally fused now.

    As for swallowing, I ate a pork chop the day I came home. I had a sore throat, got some bubbles that would get caught in my mid-section (go figure...not sure what that was about, but still get them from time to time), and singing was out of the question for a few months due to a raspy voice. But it's all good now and didn't take too long to clear up.

    I've also had lumbar surgery and yes, it's a much more difficult recovery. I'd say what most say - six months to feel decent and one year to feel back to the new normal (I don't think I'll ever feel like I did before my spine surgeries).

    But through both of them, it's imperative to follow doc's orders, no BLT, strengthening the muscles, doing PT, etc. There comes a time when you think you can do things that you shouldn't and it's tempting, but don't do them, it'll just set you back.

    Also, staying on your medication schedule in the few weeks after surgery is important. If the pain gets ahead of you, it's very hard to get it back under control. Walking is the best thing to do during any spine surgery recovery, starting with a short distance and increasing as you can, but no hills.

    Anyway, thought I'd stop by to welcome you and give you some of my experiences and thoughts. It probably won't help you now, but most will tell you that the anticipation of surgery is worse than the surgery itself, so I hope you find the same thing. Also, most have also woken up after surgery with most symptoms gone - no tingling, numbness, weakness, etc. Hope you experience the same.

    Take care,
  • both went well. The lumbar was a little more painful. But it helped with me numbness in the legs. Just a little bit left in my left toes. The cervical helped with my fumbling around with my hand just a little numbness in my left fingers but not as much as before. I still have a pinching of the nerves in the cervical and the laminectomy is to come. Mine was brought on by trauma when I wrecked a Harley on 8/15/10. It's hard to tell what is the most of the problems so I just have to get the major things taken care of first. They thought I was paralyzed after the wreck since I had no reflexes in my left side and I was on life support and in a coma for almost one month. But now I'm walking and doing fair I just have a little more to get done. Your all in my prayers.
  • I've suffered with neck pain for about 8 years. I've seen osteopathic, Chiropractor, physio and massage therapist, none of which helped for more than a week or so. My GP finally referred me to a muscular-skeletal specialist in July, and in August I had MRI revealing 2 protrusions c5-6, c6-7.

    Now I know the tingling/numbness in my hands wasn't me imagining things, and that the years of being reduced to tears by simple tasks like washing up, weren't me being weak.
    I'm told I need ACDF, I don't have a date yet, but I'm terrified - I'm a single mum to 2 young children and am worried about coping post-surgery.

    This site is great, but there doesn't seem to be many UK people?
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-health
    I have sent you a message to inbox

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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